The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the plan by the Federal Governments to concession five major airports in the country to private sector interests, threatening to resist any attempt to use critical national assets to service their cronies and friends.
This just as NLC and Organized Labour in Nigeria warns the Federal Government to desist from further contemplation, discussions, and arrangements to concession our international airports
The airports are: the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Port Harcourt Airport, and Mallam Aminu Kano Airport
NLC condemned the FG’s action in a statement signed by its President Comrade Ayuba Waba.
Ayuba stated that the current concession drive of the present government did not start today but that it has been part of the neo-liberal predilection of successive governments stretching from the days of military rule up till the current democratic dispensation to privatize, deregulate, and concession critical national assets to their cronies and friends.
Organized labour, he said has identified this approach to governance as reactionary, predatory, and self-serving. “We rejected the concession of our core national assets yesterday. We are rejecting it today,” he said.
Ayuba argued that the unwholesome and unpatriotic attitude of giving away our prized national property to private sector operatives is not only unjust and immoral but also in ultra-violation of Chapter 2, Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Fundamental Objectives and the Directive Principles of State Policy which states that the Nigerian government must manage and operate the major sectors of the economy and ensure that that our economy is not operated to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.
He noted that it is important to note that while these airports especially the ones earmarked for concession were in states of eyesore and dilapidation, no private sector invested money towards its rehabilitation, adding that it would be a grand insult to the collective intelligence of the Nigerian public for the Federal Government to invest a lot of public funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of airports and then hand them over to private sector players for profit maximization and at the expense of the taxpaying public.
This, he added is not only unjust but also immoral and cannot stand.
According to him, “Apart from the hemorrhage to government revenue that this concession portends, Nigerian workers are concerned over the security of their jobs. Our experience in the past has been that of a massive layoff of workers once the private sectors win the concession on our national assets. The reason is very overt – profit maximization as very few workers are engaged in slave labour to do the work that many workers would ordinarily be required to do. Organized Labour would resist this.”
NLC said that as far as it was concerned there is no compelling reason for the Federal Government to give away the peoples’ national airports to private companies to manage.
“The truth is that this presents the government as being incapable of managing anything. We are sure that no responsible government would want to be seen in that light. The failures of private sector intervention in our public electric power supply speaks volumes of the inherent danger in using public assets to service private interests or massage the ego of those in the corridors of power.
“The truth remains that once public workers are properly motivated, trained, capacitated, and given the enabling work environment, there are no limits to what they can achieve. Furthermore, once the government is committed to allowing the professionals to do their job without undue interference and ensure optimum maintenance standards especially by enforcing standards in the public procurement process, our workers are more than capable to maintain and manage our national assets. The success story of the Ethiopian Airline and the Airport hub instructs,” the NLC President said.
The NLC and Organized Labour in Nigeria warn the Federal Government to desist from further contemplation, discussions, and arrangements to concession our international airports, calling for social dialogue between government and labour on this.
Ayuba stated that organized labour and the entire Nigerian working class would resist any attempt to unilaterally concession any public airports thus undermine the directive principles and fundamental objectives of the constitution which is actually the fulcrum upon which our collective identity and aspiration rests.
The NLC President warned that Nigerians would not give up or surrender public assets to a few well-connected Nigerians, regardless of how powerful they may think they are.